Winter is coming: Cold-related injury prevention awareness

As winter approaches temperatures are dropping. It’s essential to be aware of cold-related injuries. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workers who are exposed to extreme cold or work in cold environments may be at risk of cold stress and cold-related injuries. Extreme cold weather is a dangerous situation that can bring on health emergencies.

Hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot/immersion foot are the common types of cold-related injuries. When working in cold temperatures, focus on prevention strategies:

  • Do understand the effects of wind chill and guard against exposure.
  • Do use the buddy system. Act quickly to address cold weather injuries.
  • Do adjust the workload. Take breaks, warm-up, avoid over exertion.
  • Don’t ignore the warning signs/symptoms.
  • Don’t think cold-related injuries won’t happen to you!
  • Don’t drive in extreme weather conditions or leave your vehicle when stranded or when in an emergency.

To help workers best understand the signs and how to prevent them, the AWEA EHS O&M Working Group has created three awareness materials: a reference card, PowerPoint training module, and a sample cold weather policy. These materials will help you understand all the signs of cold-related injuries, develop plans and strategies to prevent them, and know what to do if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.

Stay warm, stay hydrated, and stay safe.

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